South Carolina Rioters Get Only Suspended Jail Time

Five S.C. unionists, known as the “Charleston Five,” have pled no contest to low-level misdemeanor charges of participating in a “riot, rout, or affray,” ending the possibility of prison terms.  Judge Victor Rawl of the S.C. Circuit Court, Ninth Circuit, sentenced all five to 30 days in jail but suspended the sentences upon the payments of $309 fines and fees.  Rawl sentenced Elijah Ford, Ricky Simmons, and Peter Washington on Nov. 13 and Kenneth Jefferson and Jason Edgerton on Nov. 7. The five are members of the Int’l Longshoremen’s Ass’n, were charged with rioting and conspiracy to riot following an informational picket Jan. 20, 2000, at the Port of Charleston. The unionists were protesting the use of a nonunion stevedoring company to unload a Danish freighter. Although police had arrested eight members on misdemeanor charges, S.C. Atty. Gen. Charlie Condon intervened and raised the charges against five of the dockworkers to rioting, which is a felony that carries a prison term of up to five years. Condon, who took over prosecution of the case, procured indictments from a grand jury, and a trial was scheduled for Nov. 14.

The five had been under house arrest for the last year and one-half and were prohibited from leaving their homes between 7PM and 7AM unless they were working or attending a union meeting. On Oct. 10, when Condon removed himself from the proceedings, the case was transferred to a local prosecutor, who reduced the charges to misdemeanors. Shortly thereafter, the curfew was lifted. [BNA 11/15/01]

Indiana Dues Collector Pleads Guilty to $29,600 Embezzlement
On July 11, Michele T. Spragur, former office secretary for United Bhd. of Carpenters Locals 364 and 1124 in Indianapolis, pled guilty to two counts of embezzling a total of $29,673 in union funds and two counts of destroying union records. A federal grand jury indicted Spragur Apr. 18 on two counts each of union embezzlement, falsification of union records, and destruction of union records. From 1995-98, she was a secretary for the locals and responsible for collecting union dues. [DOL 7/11/01; USAO S.D. Ind. 4/18/01]

North Carolina Embezzler Gets No Jail Time for $22,000 Embezzlement
On July 23, Terry K. Wilson, ex-secretary-treasurer of United Steelworkers of Am. Local 09-1133-L in Gastonia, N.C., was placed on 3 years supervised probation and ordered to make restitution in the amount of $6,073, the amount of the $22,073 in union funds he embezzled which is still outstanding. He pled guilty plea on May 5. On Feb. 20, a one-count bill of information was filed charging Wilson with embezzling $22,073 in union funds. [DOL 7/23, 2/20/01]

Virginian Charged with Fraud
On July 9, in the Circuit Court for the City of Newport News (Va.), Stanley Coppedge, ex-grievance person for United Steelworkers of Am. Local 8888, was indicted on charges of defrauding the Newport News Shipbuilding Company and/or Local 8888 by obtaining money or property by false pretenses. [DOL 7/9/01]

Kansas Boss Charged with Stealing $3,500
On July 17, in Sedgwick County (Kan.) Court, Norman George, ex-secretary-treasurer of Bakery, Confectionery & Tobacco Workers Int’l Union Local 99G, was charged in a criminal complaint with felony theft of $3,500. [DOL 7/17/01]

More Charges for South Florida Boss
An Alabama grand jury added a child pornography charge to those already facing ex-Broward (Fla.) Teachers Union president Anthony J. Gentile  A felony indictment of “transporting” child pornography across state lines through the Internet was handed down in Oct. in Birmingham, Gentile’s attorney, David Bogenschutz, said. Gentile, who recently resigned, was charged this summer with e-mailing child pornography from union computers to someone he thought was a 14-year-old girl, then arranging to meet her for sex. The “girl” was Detective Richard Love with Law Enforcement Against Child Harm, a task force of federal, county and local investigators. In the Ala. case, Gentile was accused of striking up a sexual conversation in an Internet chat room with a Birmingham FBI agent posing as a child and e-mailing child porn to the agent. [Sun-Sent. (Ft. Lauderdale) 11/10/01]